Consumer Reports: How to save money in the kitchen

These days, every penny counts, and who wants to throw money away? You'd be surprised at how much you can waste in just one room: your kitchen! Consumer Reports reveals the money-wasting spots and what to do about them.

Let's start with your fridge. Yes, follow your mom's advice and don't stand there with the doors open figuring out what to grab. But a less obvious money waster: overfilling your fridge.

"Cold air needs room to circulate in a fridge," said Consumer Reports Home Editor Perry Santanachote. "If you overstuff it, it's going to use more energy and cause more wear and tear on the appliance."

And your refrigerator's condenser coils collect dust and other debris that tax the compressor and could lead to a pricey breakdown. To help prevent this, brush out and vacuum the coils every six months.

Next, your oven. Consider using it less and cooking smaller meals with your toaster oven, microwave or air fryer to shrink your energy bill.

You might be wasting money on cookware by wearing it out!

"Avoid using aerosol cooking spray on your nonstick cookware," Santanachote said. "It can actually build up on the surface and damage it."

If you use your non-stick skillet for high-temperature cooking, like searing meat, your pan's coating will wear out more quickly and need to be replaced - so consider investing in a cast iron pan. Some Consumer Reports Best Buy skillets cost around $25.

At the sink, save energy and don't scrub those pots and pans with running water. Let a good soapy soak do the trick.

And your dishwasher uses more water and wears out twice as fast if you run it half empty. So fill it up!

And don't waste energy pre-rinsing dishes. Your dishwasher's built-in sensors will adjust the wash cycle to get them clean.

Finally, one of the biggest kitchen money wasters is tossing spoiled food. We throw out a quarter of all the groceries we buy.

Some tips: keep milk out of the fridge door. Consumer Reports tests find that space is often the warmest part of the refrigerator. Keep long-lasting condiments there instead.

Making these little changes can stop a lot of money from going down the drain.

Here's another tip from the Consumer Reports food experts: When it comes to produce going bad before you can use it, apples, apricots and pears might be the culprit. These fruits give off a gas called ethylene that causes produce near them to ripen, so store them in a separate bin in the fridge.

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